Obituary: Comrades gold medalist Riana Van Niekerk

Comrades gold medalist Riana Van Niekerk passed away after suffering with cancer

Of her seven Comrades finishes, Riana managed a top ten finish four times between 2004 and 2011, her best race being in 2008 when she claimed sixth position. She also held three Comrades silver medals to her name. Riana was also the winner of the 2009 SA Marathon, with her last victory being at the 2015 Old Mutual Om die Dam 50km.

CMA Chairperson, Macdonald Chitja says, “We are very sad to hear of the passing away of Ms Van Niekerk. She was certainly an outstanding runner with a passion for the Comrades Marathon; and the running community is poorer with her passing.”

CMA Vice Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says, “From all that I’ve heard about Riana, she was beloved in the road running community.  She ran fast and far, but sadly her race was over way too soon.”

CMA General Manager, Chris Fisher says, “Riana’s loss is being felt throughout the running community where she truly was an inspiration to all. Our thoughts are with her family and friends. We will miss her.”

CMA Race Director, Rowyn James says, “I got to know Riana in 1996 and little did I know that our respective paths would be closely aligned and remain parallel right up until her untimely passing. During this time she was an incredibly quiet, humble and caring person with a tenacity to dig deep in the races when the going got tough.”

James adds, “To be cut down in the prime of her life and athletic career is truly tragic as she still had unfinished business. I was honoured, privileged and blessed to have known such an amazing athlete and person. RIP Riana.”

Nedbank Running Club Manager, Nick Bester says, “We are deeply saddened by this loss. Riana was such an inspiration to our club members and always had time and good words for her team members and the road running community at large.”

Bester adds, “Our deepest and heartfelt condolences go out to her husband Allie who was her best friend and constant companion.”

The memorial service for Riana will be held on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 11h00 at the NG Kerk Wierdapark, 275 Piet Hugo Street, Centurion

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